Sony Launches a User-Controllable a7R IV Satellite Into Space

Have you ever wanted to take photos and videos of the Earth from space? Sony has launched an a7R IV nano-satellite into space, offering a user-controllable space photography service.

Star Sphere: Control a Full Frame Sony Camera From Space

Sony will be launching Star Sphere in the spring of 2023, offering a unique Space Photography Service, where users can control a nano-satellite, with a full frame Sony camera, and a 28-135mm F4 lens.

According to Sony, Star Sphere is a unique experience, where you can fully operate a full frame Sony camera in real-time, capturing "never-before-possible angles of view" of Earth, from space.

Full control of the camera's shutter speed, aperture, and ISO will be available, in addition to a virtual shooting simulator, where creators can practice operating the camera, setting up their shots, and reserve shooting sessions with the space camera in advance.

Space Photography Tour Versus Premium Photo/Video Experience 

Star Sphere will offer two "Space Photography" service options.

The "Space Photography Tour" will offer creators the option to shoot their own photos in space, during pre-determined "highlights", which are curated compositions that are presented by Sony or other featured artists. These curated highlighted shots can be considered "recommended" space compositions, which would be presented during orbital flight paths and have been curated by Sony or other featured artists.

In contrast, the Star Sphere "Premium Photo/Video Experience" offers creators a fully customizable shooting experience, where you can plan to shoot photos and videos during one of 16 possible 90-minute orbits around the earth, which you can choose and customize yourself. Complete control over time-of-day, location of shots, and camera parameters is available, with a limit of 10 minutes of actual shooting time, during the 90-minute orbital path. The premium photo/video experience will also be set to offer a choice between 50 still images, or 30 seconds of video, with optional upgrades available for an additional fee. Prices for the two services and available upgrades are still pending as of this writing.

Design and Development

The Star Sphere project is a collaborative effort between Sony Group, the University of Tokyo, and JAXA. Sony developed the satellite mission, ground systems, and simulator software, in addition to the operation and control of the nano-satellite. The University of Tokyo developed the satellite engine chamber and propulsion system, while JAXA provided technical and project development support, leveraging their experience with satellite development from various other space projects. 

Star Sphere is part of Sony's "Space Inspiration Project", which aims to inspire a new appreciation of our planet, and make space perspectives available to everyone.

Will You Become a Star Sphere Crew Member?

Are you excited to devise and capture never-before compositions of our planet from space? Star Sphere is poised to become the first user-controllable space platform for photo/video, with Sony sharing the following mission statement for the project on their Star Sphere website:

"Our dream is to change individual people’s values, society, and the Earth for the better, by allowing anyone to discover space perspectives.”

Do you think this platform will give you a new appreciation for the way you see our planet? Are you looking forward to controlling a Sony space camera in real-time? Share your perspective in the comments below!

Reza Malayeri's picture

Reza is a professional photographer, cinematographer, and educator based in Seattle WA. He specializes in a variety of creative fields, including wedding photography, portrait photography, cinematography, and FAA Part 107 drone aerials. As an educator, Reza's aim is to produce compelling educational content that inspires and empowers creators.

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Sign-up doesn't work ;(

Hey there Tony! Sony mentioned that full launch would be somewhere in the spring. When I registered on the website, it asked for my Sony account and basically sent me back to the web page. I'm guessing it's just registering folks for the time being, and we'll see emails when Star Sphere is live in the spring.

of course not, it's SONY! haha

What a fantastic promotional gimmick!

Haha, it's pretty cool to be able to shoot your own photos and videos from space. Are you planning on giving it a try?

No. Got too many things to do with my own Earth-bound tools as it is.

Plus, I imagine you can already find most (all?) of the things you could shoot with this satellite cam. Google Earth seems to be all I really need.

Because space is not crowded enough.